Living Bird Magazine
Pacific LoonGavia pacifica
- ORDER: Gaviiformes
- FAMILY: Gaviidae
The Pacific Loon is perhaps the most abundant loon in North America. It spends most of the year on the Pacific Ocean, returning to inland Arctic tundra lakes only for three months in summer to breed.More ID Info
- Colimbo del Pacífico (Spanish)
- Plongeon du Pacifique (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Pacific and Arctic loons are extremely similar and were formerly considered the same species. Where the two species meet in western Alaska and eastern Siberia, the Arctic Loon has a greenish patch on its throat. Arctic Loons from the rest of Eurasia have purplish throats similar to that of the Pacific Loon.
- Pacific and Arctic loons in the waters off Japan in late winter forage cooperatively, swimming under and around schools of sand lance (a small fish) and concentrating them into an area about one meter in diameter. Japanese fishermen exploited this habit by fishing for sea bream that gathered to feed on the sand lance. With such assistance from the loons, the fishermen could earn a year's livelihood in February and March alone; as a result, the loons were worshipped as messengers from heaven. Now, this practice has ceased because of unexplained declines in loon populations, collapse of sea bream populations, and adoption of other fishing methods.
- Like other loons, the Pacific Loon walks extremely awkwardly on land, and cannot take flight from land at all. It requires about 30-50 meters of open water to take flight, flapping and pattering across the surface.